At this point I must say that I feel somewhat regretful for criticizing the sex magazine at the center of worship in my last post. I’m now convinced that I should have been encouraging it.
Not because of anything in the feedback, but because whenever you see improvement in behavior, it should be encouraged.
It turns out that the altarpiece was nothing compared to the video the church produced to promote the Sexed series. You can decide for yourself, but I don’t know how you don’t read it as a full-throated endorsement of fornication.
View it here, or check out a couple of screenshots below.
Another section says “If you were ever told sex is dirty…you were lied to.” As the text appears, a man opens a box of condoms, selects one and opens it, pulling out and and revealing the condom (I’ll spare you that screenshot, though you can see it on the video).
The video ends with a lingering shot of an empty condom wrapper. (UPDATE: If you freeze the video at 35 seconds, it is apparent that the shadow from the top condom is what makes the bottom one appear to be opened and empty. It isn’t.)
The most serious problem here is the textual content, though the visual content is also problematic, but I’ll deal with that in a moment.
The audience for this video is teenagers, almost all of whom are unmarried. That being the case, for them sex is always wrong. It’s not a difficult concept.
The arrogance of the “if you were ever told” line is remarkable. Ever is a strong and important word. The video asserts that there is no context or person who could have ever truthfully told them that sex is dirty or sinful.
Not God, who says so in the Ten Commandments and repeatedly throughout scripture?
Not their parents, who desperately hope their children understand that?
Not their conscience, which surely tells them it’s wrong? (Shoot, even Bill Clinton knew it was wrong.)
Lies. All lies, Newspring tells them. Not, perhaps you misunderstood, but the authorities in your life (former pastors, parents, leaders) all LIED to you.
This smacks of the same disrespect for parents the church paraded with its Parents are Clueless series and billboards (I wasn’t a big fan). The message to kids is that your parents are stupid, lying dolts, but we understand you and we’re cool with who you are and what you do. If I were a parent of a child attending this group and saw what the leaders were telling him or her about my moral instruction, they’d never see my child again and I’d knock on the doors of every other parent I knew with kids in the group.
But, you say, it was an ad to get kids to a series that would tell them not to engage in sex. Very well, but advertising the opposite of what you’re selling is a new and exotic marketing strategy to me. Toyota doesn’t generally promote the Honda Accord to boost sales of its own cars.
The message in this ad stood alone. Unlike the sex magazine on the stage, there is no other verbal message to contradict this. It surely wouldn’t take much for a couple of kids struggling with temptation to use the explicit condoning of sex (so long as you use a condom) to rationalize exactly the behavior the preacher will end up discouraging. Even if they come to the series, it’s at least a week or two before the preacher clarifies (refutes, would be better) the message of the ad. What about all the kids who will watch it online and never go to a meeting? How many teenage boys around the world are bookmarking a message from a church telling them that sex isn’t wrong?
In the feedback I got after the billboards article, and this weekend in response to the indecency post, I’m told by Newspringers that this stuff is a part of culture, so we need to let it into the church. (I disagree, but that’s another post for another day.) The thing with the condom video here is that this is so far over the line that you won’t even find this in our fallen culture. (The comments section is open for anyone to show me a condom ad broadcast on American television that shows the actual condom.) If this were a television ad, you could not find a station or cable channel to run it for you. It’s a shame that television executives have higher standards than some pastors.
Evangelism is not an invitation to depravity.
The text says that sex is not sinful. The accompanying video shows a close up of someone having sex. (If the guy is opening the condom, what would you see if you zoomed the camera out?) A few folk have said that they’d quit the church if they actually did depict sex on stage. Here you go. Just how much of that sex act do you need to see for it to be wrong?
Here’s something I’d like to know. If you were to make an ad that claimed that premarital sex was OK, how would it differ at all from the video Newspring sprung on its kids?
Over to you.
UPDATE: Here’s the third “if you…” line that Caleb asked for.